Chris Brandt


Fear As A Principle Of Social Organization

Fear nukes. 1953, duck, cover, crawl under
your desk, the same desk where you carve your name
and have to stay after school for a week, sanding it
by hand under the teacher’s icepick eye. Learn fear.

Fear father. When your father comes home…
Mommy, will daddy be in a good mood?
You understand why I must punish you? That this
hurts me more than you?
Daddy please! Love fear.

Fear God. He sees you, knows when you cheat,
when you touch yourself, when you think
your dirty little thoughts about Susie, he’s
a bit like Santa Claus, only real, and he
can make you go to hell. Worship fear.

Fear acne. Fear wearing dumb shoes, cliques,
being left out, getting turned down
for dates, for a part in the play, being
the last one chosen for softball or soccer,
fear showing you care. Fear yourself.

Fear sex. Fear girls, fear women, fear boys.
Fear hairy palms, syphilis, wet dreams,
not knowing how to undo a bra, sweaty hands,
coming too soon, not coming. Fear desire.

Fear getting a job. Fear losing it. Not knowing
the right word, saying the wrong thing, gossip
and office intrigue, drug tests, the boss.
Fear candor, fear secrecy. Fear everyone.

Fear aging, fear skin growing slack, joints
getting stiff, eyes weak, desire limp, thought
thick, memory thin. Fear nothing
to do, fear loneliness. Fear

Chris Brandt is a writer, activist, translator, carpenter, furniture designer, theatre worker. He teaches in Fordham's Peace and Justice Program. Poems and essays have been published in Spain, France, Mexico and the US; translations in The New Yorker and by Seven Stories Press, UC Berkeley, and the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña.

(author retains copyright)